Why I Don’t Drink Caffeine

Assuming you have read the title, you may or may not already think I am crazy. How can a college student not consume caffeine? Is that not what millennials such as myself live off of? I promise you it is possible, and maybe that does make me odd, and crazy to some, but it makes sense for me.

Coffee has never been something I have needed to resist since I have never liked it. I do not like the smell, let alone the taste. For me, it’s bitter and unpleasant, even in the sips I have tried of pseudo-coffee beverages of my friends.

When I first got to college, I drank a lot of caffeine. I drank soda several times a week, usually with lunch as a boost through the day. It was mostly due to its availability, and the new freedom of being able to eat whatever I want! It was all up to me! I admit, I also was not sleeping nearly enough as a first-year. I would pull late nights doing homework after fairly unproductive days and wouldn’t be able to fall asleep quickly once I did get to bed. Then I would wake up tired and drink caffeine to wake me up and get me through the day. It was a vicious cycle into which it was far too easy to fall.

As the year progressed, I tried to drink less soda and replace it with water since I knew soda is bad for me. I was mostly successful, though I still drank soda on occasion. During my sophomore year, I noticed that the carbonation in soda started to make me feel unwell. It was mostly if I drank it too late in the day, but it was not pleasant. It meant I drank soda even less than I already was. Now I very, very rarely drink soda, and I prefer that.

Without soda and coffee, you may ask: then what kind of caffeine are you drinking, lady? Well, here it is. I love tea. I love mint teas and especially love black teas in the morning with a little milk and sugar. It often makes my morning feel complete. Often, black teas are also caffeinated.

All I love is tea, tea, tea, no matter what.

When I was abroad last fall and coming back to Kenyon the following spring, I had a cup of tea every morning, if not two. A cup of caffeine to start the day, chai at home and black tea at school. On mornings without it, it threw me off for the rest of the day. I was groggy, sluggish, unfocused. I might get a headache. Generally, I was more grumpy and irritable without caffeine. I disliked it. I disliked this need for caffeine to feel functionally myself.

On no level would I call myself addicted to caffeine. However, I was starting to become dependent on it. That was not okay to me.

This summer, I fell a little in love with matcha lattes.

Just like with soda, I eased my way away from caffeine, slowly moving towards decaffeinated teas and drinks wherever I went. I replaced chai lattes with hot chocolates at Wiggin and Starbucks. I drink water or maybe lemonade instead of soda. It took some time. I do not always go completely NO CAFFEINE EVER because I think that is unrealistic. I will choose a caffeinated tea over no tea at all. On occasion, I have a really low energy day when I just need that little boost, but I am no longer relying on caffeine every day of my life.

It is true that I genuinely like to drink water. I have been going to summer camp since I was ten, where drinking a lot of water is basically required. Seriously, it is one of the rules we talk about on the first day. Being hydrated is also generally good for you. It definitely makes me feel better, whereas being dehydrated makes me feel absolutely awful.

I also noticed that drinking caffeine almost every morning made it harder for me to stay hydrated throughout the day. It could make me feel sick. Being as busy as I am, I cannot afford to feel awful for reasons that I can avoid, like dehydration.

Enjoying hot chocolate at Wiggin before Sunday brunch

I am not trying to tell the world to give up coffee, or whatever your caffeine of choice is. I do not think that everyone needs to make my choices to feel good. I do know that this choice makes me feel better. I am listening to my body and what it wants, what it likes and what it does not like. My body needs to be more hydrated, and it does not really like caffeine. That is my choice. I encourage you to do the same: listen to your body and decide for yourself.


Image Credit: Jenna Wendler